Athletes use a variety of nutritional ergogenic aids to enhance performance. Most nutritional aids can be categorized as a potential energy source, an anabolic enhancer, a cellular component, or a recovery aid. Studies have consistently shown that carbohydrates consumed immediately before or after exercise enhance performance by increasing glycogen stores and delaying fatigue. Protein and amino acid supplementation may serve an anabolic role by optimizing body composition crucial in strength-related sports. Dietary antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E and carotenes, may prevent oxidative stress that occurs with intense exercise. Performance during high-intensity exercise, such as sprinting, may be improved with short-term creatine loading, and high-effort exercise lasting 1-7 min may be improved through bicarbonate loading immediately prior to activity. Caffeine dosing before exercise delays fatigue and may enhance performance of high-intensity exercise.
Elizabeth Applegate is with the Nutrition Department, University of California, Davis, 1 Shields Ave., Davis, CA 95616.